The classic images of a pig’s head and O$P$ splattered in red on corridor walls sum up feelings about debt collectors. While legitimate debt collection agencies might not be using loanshark runners’ tactics, these actions can still border on harassment. If you’ve have trouble paying your bills then you may be the recipient of unwanted attention from a debt collector. Here’s what you need to know.
Who are they?
Companies can lose huge amounts of money each year to non-paying clients. It is therefore in their best interests to invest in a means of clawing back the money owed to them. Most of the time, this unpleasant task is outsourced to debt collection agencies. They work on behalf of the company to chase debtors for the money owing.
What can they do?
Legitimate debt collection agencies hasn’t stopped their debt collectors from resorting to scare tactics. This includes banging on your windows and doors and hanging up banners telling the world that you owe money.
What sets them apart from your neighbourhood ah long is the fact that they try to comply with the law. There’s also an industry Code of Ethics set up by the Credit Collection Association of Singapore, which resolves disputes between debtors and collection agencies.
What can’t they do?
Unfortunately for debtors, there is no specific law regulating debt collection agencies. This means that they’re basically can to do anything a regular entity can. They are subject to the same laws as a friend you borrowed money from would be.
Here are some examples of actions that could get a debt collector in trouble with the law.
- Unlawful assembly – If the debt collection agency sends down a mob of burly men, you can call the police on them for unlawful assembly. Any assembly of five or more people can be convicted if you can show that their objective is to commit an offence. Earlier this year, a group of seven debt collection agency employees was arrested for unlawful assembly after showing up at a food court stall at Funan DigitaLife Mall.
- Intimidation and violence – Banging on doors and shouting vulgarities are standard debt collection practices. However, it is actually against the law to use threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour. So if a debt collector waves his fist in your face and threatens to punch you, call the police.
- Vandalism – We all know what happened to Michael Fay. If the debt collectors spray paint your property, affix on your property any posters, advertisements or banners or steal, destroy or damage anything belonging to you, they are guilty of an act of vandalism.
- Harassment – If their actions cause you to believe that unlawful violence will be use on you, you have a good reason to call the cops.
- Damaging or taking possession of your belongings – In reality, they need a writ of seizure from the courts in order to seize your property.
How to deal with debt collectors
The bad news is that you can run, but you can’t hide. You may be able to dodge debt collectors in the short term. However, letting your debts spiral out of control, you can soon find your car and other property seized. It will be sold in order to recover your debts, or bankruptcy proceedings commenced against you.
Don’t let yourself be intimidated by debt collectors. If they overstep their limits and do anything that’s against the law, don’t hesitate to call the police. Otherwise, know that they often have the ability to act as an intermediary between you and your creditors.
Instead of running away, try to bargain and work with them to devise a manageable way to repay your debts.
DO NOT borrow from loan sharks as it can spiral out of control. If you need cash, approach a bank or licensed moneylender. You can look through our moneylender directory and moneylender review on money lenders in Singapore and find one that you think may be suitable for your needs.